Driverless shuttle in downtown Las Vegas

Las Vegas driverless shuttle starts off with a bang

You can’t make this stuff up.  A self-driving shuttle was involved in a fender-bender just an hour into the start of a year-long trial in downtown Las Vegas (NV).

A truck backed into the shuttle, which was carrying eight passengers at the time.  No one was hurt, and the truck driver received a citation.  The City of Las Vegas posted a statement explaining the incident:

The autonomous shuttle was testing today when it was grazed by a delivery truck downtown. The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that its sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident. Unfortunately the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle.

AAA is sponsoring the pilot, in partnership with Keolis.  After a successful trial in January, the shuttle is carrying passengers on a 0.6-mile loop in the city’s innovation district.

After the incident, a local reporter posed the obvious question to a Keolis representative: Why couldn’t the autonomous vehicle back up to avoid impact?  He said the shuttle is designed to stop and yield to a moving object. “If the moving object keeps coming toward the shuttle, it can back up,” the spokesman said. “But apparently in this case the truck just kept on going, and went right in to the side of the shuttle.”

The trial will continue after Keolis inspects the vehicle for damage. Link to full story in Engadget.

Update: The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

Photo source: City of Las Vegas

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